Another informal name for "Jesus"

Posted by admin on August 25, 2007

Another Informal or Familiar Name for "Jesus"

There was another familiar name for Yehoshua‘ besides Yeshua‘, though less common. After the birth of Christianity, the use of the name Yeshua‘ became exceedingly rare when compared with the frequent use of the name during the Second Temple Period.

A shortened form of the name, "Yeshu", without the ‘ayin has long been used as the Jewish name for Jesus (of Nazareth) in Jewish circles. The use of this form of the name for Jesus of Nazareth by Jews has, for some time, been at the center of a controversy, especially in the modern era. A common reason given in certain circles for this seeming misspelling of the name is that the name was changed in order convert the original meaning "God is our salvation" to an acronym "may his name and memory be erased" (as a slur). However, there is some evidence that the name Yeshu was used during the late Second Temple Period as mere familiar name or nickname, with no slur intended.

 

According to the medieval Masoretic grammatical rules of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic: When a word ends in a guttural letter, ‘ayin or chet, which is preceded by a 'heterogeneous long vowel' (such as "-ow-", "-uw-", "-iy-", "-ey-") then a short 'a' vowel is to be inserted between the the consonant of the long vowel and the guttural ending. However, this rule is reflected in Hebrew and Aramaic grammar rather late in the game, in the medieval vocalized manuscripts of the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible.

The only place where we can find the actual first century pronunciation of the name (with its vowels) is in the Greek form of the name. The Greek transliteration of the name is not IHSOUAS but IHSOUS, with no evidence of an inserted short "a" vowel. Likewise, the Syriac Aramaic vocalization of the name is Isho‘ (not Ishoa‘). The original pronunciation of the name ended with the guttural ‘ayin alone. In this case the "-uw-" of Yeshu‘ followed immediately with a drop in the voice and the constriction of the larynx and the glottis to for the sound of the letter ‘ayin. This sound may have resembled the vowel sound "a" to the Masoretes of the medieval period. However, to the ears of others from the Second Temple Period, including the Greeks, the sound of the ‘ayin was either unheard or could not be transliterated in the Greek language.

 

With regard to ossuary inscriptions, in at least one case, and perhaps two, the familiar name YESHU‘ is accompanied by an even shorter form of the name, YSHW (YESHU). On ossuary CJO 9 (the second "Yeshua‘ bar Yehosef" inscription), the name appears as an alternative reading of Yeshua‘ (note the unusual form of the shin, with five strokes rather than four). In DF 40 the name YESHU‘ occurs twice in cursive script, while a third name appears (with a poorly written shin, but otherwise decipherable), which may be another example of YSHW (YESHU).

yeshu-nickname.jpg

It seems to follow that, at least during the Second Temple Period, the name YSHW (YESHU) did not contain any derogatory connotations. Whatever it may have come to mean to Jews and Christians during their many centuries of conflict, can only be drawn from the annals of later history. The etymological back-formation of YESHU to represent the acronym YSH"W --"may his name and memory be erased" may well be a relatively recent invention that was instigated during these years of struggle.

 

For example, listen to:

Original pronunciation of Yeshu‘

Bibliography

Bagatti, P.B. and Milik, J.T. Gli Scavi del “Dominus Flevit”, Parte 1. Jerusalem. Franciscan Printing Press. 1981.

Benoit, P., Milik, J.T., and de Vaux, R. Les Grottes de Murabba’at. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert II. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1961.

Cotton, H.M. and Yardmen, A. Aramaic Hebrew and Greek Documentary Texts from Nasal Hover and Other Sites. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert XXVII. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1997.

Flusser, D. Jewish Sources in Early Chrisitianity. (Tel Aviv: MOD Books, 1989.) p. 15

M. Fruchtman and D. Sivan (edd.) The Extended Ariel Dictionary: Hebrew-Modern Hebrew Dictionary from all Periods of the Language. (Israel: Korim Ltd.. 2007)

Ilan, T. Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Part 1: Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE. Tübingen. Mohr Siebeck. 2002.

M. Jastrow, Dictionary of Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi, Midrashic Literature and Targumim. New York, 1903. (Reprinted, Israel, 1981)

E. Kautzsch (ed.), Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (trans. A. E. Cowley; 2nd ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910)

Lewis, N., Yadin, Y., and Greenfield, J.C. The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Caves of the Letters: Greek Papyri; Aramaic and Nabatean Signatures and Subscriptions. Jerusalem. Israel Exploration Society/The Hebrew University of Jerusalem/The Shrine of the Book. 1989.

Rahmani, L.Y. A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel. Jerusalem. The Israel Antiquities Authority/The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 1994. 

0 Comments Read full post »

The formal name of Jesus

Posted by admin on August 24, 2007

Formal Names/Familiar Names

There are numerous examples of individuals in the literature and in the ossuaries who are ascribed both formal and familiar names according to the context in which the individual is addressed. [See the explanation in the article, "How do we solve a problem like Maria?"] As MARIA is the familiar form of the formal name MARIAM, as YOSEH/YOSIY is the familiar form of YEHOSEF, as MATIY/MATIYAH is the familiar form of MATITIYAH, as MARA is the familiar form of MARTHA, as CHONIY is the familiar form of YEHOCHANAN, YESHUA‘ is the standard familiar form of YEHOSHUA‘. (The placement of waw before shin, and not after it, follows the spelling of Joshua as found in the Biblical text.)

yehoshuacjo63.jpg

Yehoshua‘, the formal name of Yeshua‘


Other Yeshua‘s among the ossuaries

Posted by admin on August 23, 2007

Other Yeshua‘s

 

other-yeshuas.jpg

 

Another Yeshua‘ bar Yehosef (CJO 9)

CJO 9 is the second "Yeshua‘ bar Yehosef" in the CJO collection. However, this time there is no question mark next to the name Yeshua‘. It is clearly inscribed in a deeply incised, lapidary stick script. The letters are unornamented (without the upturned serifs) with the exception of the word "bar" in the middle of the inscription. The waw and yodh are clearly distinguished.

Since there are approximately 230 Hebrew/Aramaic inscriptions among the ossuaries in the CJO series, statistically there is one "Jesus son of Joseph" for every 115 Hebrew/Aramaic ossuary inscriptions in the collection. There may have been more among the tombs since the vast majority of ossuaries contain more skeletons than there are names inscribed on the sides. Also, most cases where a Yeshua‘ has been inscribed, there is no father mentioned (there is an outside chance that any of a number of these were also a "Jesus, son of Joseph").

Various scripts among the ossuaries

 

Besides the natural distinctions in personal handwriting from one inscription to another, there are also distinct, standard styles of scripts that have been used among the ossuaries. A general distinction can be made between styles which emulate or are influenced by normal "ink on paper" handwriting. These come in formal, semi-formal, semi-cursive and cursive scripts. Formal script is reflected in CJO 121 and CJO 702. Cursive script endeavors to create letters without lifting the pen or stylus. The best examples of this form of script is that of DF 40. This closely resembles the name "Yeshua‘ (?)" in ossuary CJO 704 from the Talpiot Tomb.

There are other scripts, called "lapidary scripts," which are standard for inscriptions which have been deeply engraved in stone. What tend to be gently curved lines in handwritten scripts tend to be straightened out in lapidary script. There are both formal and informal forms of this script which usually can be distinguished by uniformity and ornamentation. The more ornamented forms tend to have triangular, often hollow serifs (as in the Mariah, Yoseh, and Mattiah inscriptions in the Talpiot Tomb). The lines of the less elaborate lapidary styles tend to appear stick-like, made up of distinct separate strokes and without serif ornamentation (cf. and especially DF 29 and "Yehosef" of the CJO 704 Talpiot Tomb inscription; also pertinent is CJO 9). CJO 140 above is the same but with slight hint of some cursive tendencies with respect to the shin and the ‘ayin.

The scripts of the "Yeshua‘ (?) bar Yehosef" inscription of the Talpiot Tomb

Yeshua‘ (?):

Cursive style.

Utilizes earlier strokes which preexisted on the surface as part of the new inscription.

Cramped/crowded execution which is abnormal to be confined to the beginning of an inscription (as opposed to the end of an inscription where such crowding commonly happens when the writer runs out of room; e.g., CJO 702). However crowding is more likely to be expected when a name or word is being inserted into a line or place where there is limited space for the size of the inserted word earlier in the inscription.

Which is the best candidate for yodh? Only one candidate of the two could have been made by the same tool as shin and ayin in the rest of the inscription: the short diagonal stroke attached to bottom of the shin. Here, yodh is executed as a short, diagonal stroke in numerous inscriptions in order to distinguish it from the waw. This form is stylistically similar to other inscriptions such as CJO 63, CJO 140, DF 40 (see above) and should be considered a trait typical of the writer, whether writing in either cursive or simple lapidary script. As will be seen, this is not the practice of the individual who wrote the name "Yehosef".

yeshua-color.jpg yeshua-bshemesh.jpg

Yeshua‘: Drawing and new close-up images of the ossuary.

Yehosef:

Simple lapidary style. Stick-like appearance. The yodh and the waw are virtually indistinguishable graphically speaking. The length, angle and height of the stroke are consistently the same.

yehosefcolour.jpg jesusdf29color.jpg

The Yeshua‘ of DF 29 is stylistically more compatible with the Yehosef of this inscription, illustrating what the name Yeshua‘ would have looked like if the person who wrote Yehosef would also have written it also. It would appear that, again we have evidence that Yeshua‘ (?) was written by a different hand on another occasion.

1 Comment Read full post »

What lies beneath?

Posted by admin on August 21, 2007

What lies beneath the name "Yeshua‘ (?)" in the Talpiot tomb inscription? That is the question.

yeshua-color.jpg        earlierscratches.jpg

 

Yeshua‘ (?).................................................earlier scratches beneath

The earlier yellow scratches/strokes (right) are beneath Yeshua‘ (?) and are made by a duller tool. However they were made by a similar or identical tool to those in Yehosef. These are arguably the remnants of an earlier name. The surface was also apparently effaced and shaved. This makes the earlier name difficult to decipher. (The names Chanun or Yadun are possible but only conjectural until the inscribed lines can be thoroughly cleaned and examined).

At least one or more of the earlier scratches appear to have been incorporated into the name "Yeshua‘ (?)" when it was added. For example, it would be the case if one accepts the long stroke on the right as the yodh. The upper left vertical stroke of the ‘ayin has been incorporated. The waw is also part of the earlier layer, which may either have been incorporated into the later inscription, or if not, the earlier inscription was intended to read simply, "Yesha‘ (?)" without a waw.

What are the implications?

The filmmakers propose that the burials of Jesus' family in this tomb began with his own death and burial. The implication is that this "Yeshua‘ (?)", (no matter how one chooses to read the name), was not the first to be interred in the ossuary nor in the tomb. This means that the family of this individual both had a tomb and a burial in the family tomb before this "Jesus (?)" ever died.

 

Stay tuned for more.

 


What lies above?

Posted by admin on August 19, 2007

What lies on the surface are two names with noticeable differences.

The observation that the first name was written in a different style and by a different tool than the last name leads to various questions. Add to that that the first name was written over an earlier first name has certain implications for the storyline of the filmmakers and, along with other facts, works against the theory that this Jesus is to be identified with Jesus of Nazareth.

yehosefcolour.jpg yeshua-color.jpg

 

Yehosef.................................................. Yeshua‘ (?)

(Note the two distinctive writing styles used to write the two names on two different occasions)

 


Yeshua' (?)

Posted by admin on August 17, 2007

Yeshua' (?): what do the experts say about the name (Cross, Naveh, Pfann, Puech, Rahmani, Yardeni et al.)

1) The yodh is difficult to identify. Neither stroke (see black strokes in fig. 1) that has been suggested resembles the yodh of Yehosef (black, fig. 2).

2) What is taken to be a shin (blue) has an exceedingly long tail.

3) The top of the waw (green, fig. 1) seems to have a hooked head however this in no way resembles the single stroke used to form a waw later in the name Yehosef (green, fig. 2).

4) The diagonal stroke of the proposed ayin (red) is longer than usual. But the most unsual factors are: a) the letter incorporates an earlier vertical stroke (yellow) made by another tool. b) The ayin itself is written over and intersects with the vertical downstrokes of not just one but two preceding letters proposed by Rahmani, the shin (blue) and the waw (green). This is almost unheard of.

5) Various additional scratches may be remnants of an earlier inscription. (identifications subject to further scientific analysis)

yeshua2.jpg yeshua2color.jpg

fig. 1, Yeshua (?)

yehosefplain.jpg yehosefcolor.jpg

fig. 2, Yehosef

 

These unusual features along with the numerous other scratches and strokes made by at least one other tool in and around the inscription certainly justifies the need for the question mark "?".

S. Pfann


Clarification for BAR

Posted by admin on August 14, 2007

Dear Hershel,

In your July/August "First Person, 'The Tomb of Jesus'–My Take," you speak of the reading 'Yeshua bar Yehosef' as being "clear to almost all expert observers." You then follow this by "(pace Stephen Pfann, of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem)." First of all, "clear" is not the term I would use. While, in fact, the experts almost unanimously consider the "bar Yehosef" part of the inscription to be clear, they likewise almost unanimously consider the "Yeshua" part of the inscription to be "messy" (Cross, from the film), or "difficult to read, as the incisions are clumsily carved and badly scratched" (Rahmani). In fact, the original reading made by Dr. Rahmani was "Yeshua' (?), son of Joseph" with a question mark following the name "Yeshua'."

In the Jerusalem Post Article "Giving Jesus the Silent Treatment" (

Horowitz records Prof. Naveh's response to the inscription: "The 'Joseph' is unmistakable," he said. "The 'son of' is okay. And you can certainly read it as 'Jesus'," he said. "Just not definitely. There are lots of additional lines here that don't belong'"

Another prominent expert interviewed by Horowitz, whom Jacobovici did not consult, was Prof. Emile Puech, across town in the tranquil offices of the French Biblical and Archeological School in east Jerusalem. His response to the inscription was much the same as Naveh's: "It's very crude lettering,' said the bearded, French-born Father Puech. 'The 'Joseph' is clear. The 'son of' is no problem. The 'Jesus?' It's certainly possible to read it that way."

And a third leading authority interviewed by Horowitz, Ada Yardeni, also essentially came down on Jacobovici's side. "'Son of Joseph,' for sure," she said after an inspection. "The first name? Well, there are lots of markings here, but, yes, it could well be Jesus."

Mr. Horowitz came to me first to question me concerning an AP article which seemed to say that I read "Chanun" and not "Jesus." I did not actually say that. I did say that the name taken to be Yeshua' was cut more deeply with a different tool and a more cursive form of the Jewish script than the rest of the inscription. I also suggested that the additional "lines" or "markings" were likely the remnants of an earlier inscription in which the name was effaced and over-inscribed by "Yeshua (?)". The earlier name was not clear. Although I did suggest some possibilities (e.g., "Hanun," "Yadun," etc.), Horowitz was much more interested in my article on the frequency of the names of the tomb in the contemporary setting, and finished his article highlighting those findings. (See the article and blog at www.uhl.ac).

As with other scholars, I had originally accepted the reading of Rahmani based upon preliminary observations. However, after I examined a high resolution photograph of the inscription in January, it became apparent that the additional "scratches" which appear among the strokes of the proposed name "Yeshua" were not accidental. It appeared at that time that the scratches were made by a similar, dull-tipped tool to that used for the last two words of the inscription. This tool left incisions/grooves which are shallow and wide, quite possibly representing the remnants of an earlier inscribed name. The key strokes which make up "Yeshua(?)" were made by a narrower and sharper tip, were apparently secondary, and thus overwrote the earlier name. It was hoped that with further examination of the actual inscription the actual sequence of the strokes could be ascertained.

In January, when I notified the producers of my new observations concerning the inscription, they included neither my initial nor subsequent observations in the film, and instead presented me as assisting Steven Cox, the forensic expert (who is part of our UHL archaeological staff).

 

Since then the University of the Holy Land staff applied to the IAA to examine the inscription and to take digital images of the incisions under high magnification. Our UHL staff has now examined the inscription on three occasions under a binocular microscope and under ultraviolet light, making high resolution images of the inscribed lines. Dried mud is deeply impacted into many of the strokes and remains an impediment to clearly examining all parts of the inscription, to determine the full sequence of the inscribed lines. However, it still appears to several pairs of discerning eyes that the the strokes represent the work of at least two separate tools and that strokes of the name "Yeshua(?)" appear to be secondary to those of the rest of the inscription.

Careful investigation is currently being made into the best way to clean the dried mud from the inscription without disturbing the original patina.

It was my good fortune that I could research and notify the producers of my revised readings of this ossuary before the film had finished production. It was only after the film was released that I realized that two of the other ossuaries had also been misread and misinterpreted. For which see:

http://www.uhl.ac/old/en/projects/talpiot-tomb/mariameandmartha/

http://www.uhl.ac/old/en/projects/talpiot-tomb/shimon-barzillai/

(The revised transcriptions of these inscriptions are now supported by such epigraphers as Puech, Naveh, Yardeni and Martini.)

The production of this film highlights the problems accompanying snap-judgment scholarship. Initial observations which are caught on film must be considered as preliminary. Further research is normally necessary to make a final word.

Unfortunately, other scholars did not have the opportunity to research and update their preliminary observations before the film's release. Why did so many scholars who were interviewed for the film, subsequent to the film's release, revise or retract their statements? Several factors affect the way the statements of scholars appear on film.

1. First of all, when the interviewer asks a question, the scholar often does not have any idea as to the direction that the discussion is headed. They often do not anticipate what hidden story line or premise their statement is going to be used to support.

2. The interview is often presented in the form of a request for an expert's authoritative and conclusive opinion. However the expert has often not been able to digest the results of his own initial observations (e.g., to check his results further with his peers and additional data) in order to provide a more exact or guarded statement. Initial observations are just that. Final conclusions can be achieved with the passage of time and more time in the lab and in the library.

3. Finally, further editing of the interviews by the filmmakers gives them the "last word," often one in which editing and re-contextualization of the statements of the scholars will all too often create a misleading impression.

For the transcripts and sources of these publicly available statements see :

"Cracks in the Foundation: The Jesus Family Tomb Story

The Experts Weigh In and Bow Out, Disclaimers from the Film's Own Experts (ON THE RECORD)" http://www.uhl.ac/old/en/projects/talpiot-tomb/cracks-in-the-foundation/

I do appreciate your personal interest in this subject.

 

Cordially,

Stephen Pfann

1 Comment Read full post »

Archives are not to be confused with libraries!

The Archives of the Judean Wilderness in the Context of the Roman World

 

Archive storage

The documents from Murrabba'at were not found by archaeologists in situ. Legal documents, letters and lists, whether written on papyrus or potsherds, irrespective of date and location, came to the museum with no contextual data attached to the finds other than potential cave numbers (deduced by the archaeologists later).

However, most of the documents from Nahal Hever were in fact extracted from the caves in controlled excavations by Yigael Yadin and his team. The Babatha archive was contained within a leather pouch. The Bar Kochba letters were concealed separately within a waterskin. The En Gedi archive was found alone and separate. (Also the Biblical scrolls were found in a separate location in the cave, apparently separate from the documentary and archival material.) These are archives which were taken from their original storage containers from homes or community archives and transported in lighter leather pouches. Fabric pouches may also have been used to transport other collections of documents but have not survived.

Most archives from Egypt were not obtained by controlled excavations. Happily, archives were found during the excavations of Deir el-Medineh in Egypt stored in two sealed jars. Private archival documents, including deeds, marriage licenses, promissory notes, receipts and private letters are not normally stored on library shelves where access is intentionally more open. Not today, nor in antiquity. Archives are intentionally sequestered with their access sealed or limited to those who are privileged to do so. They are often sealed in jars or safes secured in a room, a cave or buried in a floor. In the most secure conditions, the archive jars are tied and sealed and the documents inside are also individually sealed with five or seven seal impressions and/or signatures.

deir-el-medinahsjp.jpg

The fact that archival documents are not common among the libraries of Qumran may have several explanations. The best explanation is that private documents, not likely a target for thieves, were kept close to the individual refugee. The expensive institutional libraries, susceptible to robbery, were stored safely with the hope that the fleeing community that hid them will one day return to retrieve them.

In the case of the Bar Kokhba caves of Nahal Hever and W. Murabba'at a different story has been told. The various caves were inhabited by families of refugees from the districts under various commanders who were assigned to each cave. After a period of time, the Romans built seige camps above the caves and eventually captured or killed the refugees. If the refugees were able to escape they would likely have carried their archives with them.

Bibliography

Maria Brosius (ed), Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions: Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World (Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents; Oxford University Press, USA, 2003)

Cotton, Hannah M. "Subscriptions and Signatures in the Papyri from the Judaean Desert: The Cheirochrestes." Juristic Papyrology 25 (1995) 29-40.

Cotton, Hannah M. "The Languages of the Legal and Administrative Documents from the Judaean Desert." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 125 (1999) 219-231.

Cotton, Hannah M. "Documentary Texts," "Hever, Nahal: Written Material," "Se'elim, Nahal: Written Material," In Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam, 1-2:212-215, 324-326, 359-361, 474-475, 860-861, 984-987. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Cotton, Hannah M. "The Bar Kokhba Revolt and the Documents from the Judaean Desert: Nabataean Participation in the Revolt (P. Yadin 52)." In The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome, ed. Peter Schäfer, 133-152. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Cotton, Hannah M., W. E. H. Cockle, and Fergus G. B. Millar. "The Papyrology of the Roman Near East: A Survey." Journal of Roman Studies 85 (1995) 214-235.

Cotton, Hannah M. and Joseph Geiger. "The Economic Importance of Herod's Masada: The Evidence of the Jar Inscriptions." In Judaea and the Greco-Roman World in the Time of Herod in Light of Archaeological Evidence, ed. Klaus Fittschen and Gideon Foerster, 163-170. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996.

Cotton, Hannah M. and Joseph Geiger. "Herod and Masada: The Written Finds." In The Story of Masada: Discoveries from the Excavations, ed. Gila Hurvitz, 77-83. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, 1997.

Cotton, Hannah M. and Ada Yardeni. Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek Documentary Texts from Nahal Hever and Other Sites: With an Appendix Containing Alleged Qumran Texts. DJD 27. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

Olof Pedersen, Archives and Libraries in the Ancient Near East 1500-300 B.C. (CDL Press, 1998)

P. W. Pestman, A Guide to the Zenon Archive; Papyrologica Lugduno-Batava (Brill Academic Pub, 1997)

S. Pfann, ‘Sites in the Judean Desert Where Texts Have Been Found’, Chapter 5 in The Dead Sea Scrolls on

Microfiche: A Comprehensive Facsimile Edition of the Texts from the Judean Desert(in

collaboration with Emanuel Tov). Brill/IDC, 1993.

S. Pfann, ‘Kelei Dema‘: Scroll Jars, Tithe Jars and Cookie Jars,’ Copper Scroll Studies: Proceedings of the Manchester Copper Scroll Conference, edited by George J. Brooke and Phillip R. Davies. JSP Supp. Sheffield Academic Press (2002).

Bezalel Porton, Archives from Elephantine. The Life of an Ancient Jewish Military Colony (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968)


An updated form of this article will soon appear in:

Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 2007 Volume 25

S. Pfann, "Reassessing the Judean Desert Caves: Libraries, Archives, Genizas and Hiding Places"

++++++++++++++

Bibliography on Ancient Libraries:

Lionel Casson, Libraries of the Ancient World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001).

Y. Hirschfeld, “The Library of King Herod in the Northern Palace of Masada,” Scripta Classica Israelica 23 (2004), 69-80.

Elmer D. Johnson and Michael H. Harris, History of Libraries in the Western World (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1976).

James W. Thompson, Ancient Libraries (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1940).

For a thorough Bibliography on Ancient Libraries click here


The Case of Masada's scrolls.

Posted by admin on August 03, 2007

The Case of Masada

Masada (map ref. 1837.0805) (Photos: SHR 5067-5097; 5251-5252a; 5254-5255; 5260-5287; 5289-96; 5298-5304; 5500-5621; 6201-6204; 6206; IAA 302358-373)

During 1955 and 1956 two seasons of an archaeological survey were carried out at Masada by M. Avi-Yonah, N. Avigad, Y. Aharoni, I. Dunayevsky, and S. Gutman on behalf of the Hebrew University, the Israel Exploration Society and the Israel Department of Antiquities jointly. During this survey and excavation the entire mound, its visible structures and its water system were mapped and drawn. Special attention was paid to the northern palace which was partially excavated. One ostracon, one papyrus fragment, one graffito on plaster, and 3 coins were found in this survey (IEJ 7 [1957] 1-65, pls. 1-16).

Yigael Yadin directed the first of two seasons of excavation at Masada on behalf of the Hebrew University, the Israel Exploration Society, and the Israel Department of Antiquities jointly. The intention of this excavation was to expose the remains at this site in their entirety. The extensive architectural and material remains at the site were primarily from the time of Herod the Great until the destruction of the site in 73 CE (including Roman army camps and siege works built around the site). There seems to have been a limited occupation by a Roman garrison during the years following the destruction. Some evidence of occupation during the Chalcolithic period, the Iron Age and especially the Byzantine Period (including the remains of a church) was also found. From the Roman Period several biblical and other texts on parchment were found as well as many coins, more than 700 ostraca, and more than 200 Roman secular documents on papyrus (IEJ 15 [1965]). For details see chapter II.

Surveys and limited excavations: Mar. 18-29, 1955 and Mar. 7-17, 1956 (IEJ 7 [1957] 1-65, pls. 1-16.

Excavations: Oct. 1963 - Apr. 1964 (IEJ 15 [1965]) and Dec. 1964 - Mar. 1965 (“Masada,” EAEHL [1976] 793-816).

Final reports: Y. Yadin, J. Naveh and Y. Meshorer, Masada I: Hebrew and Aramaic Documents and Ostraca; H. Cotton and J. Geiger, Masada II: Greek and Latin Documents and Ostraca; E. Netzer, Masada III: Architecture.

From: S. Pfann, ‘Sites in the Judean Desert Where Texts Have Been Found, Chapter 5 in The Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche: A Comprehensive Facsimile Edition of the Texts from the Judean Desert (edited by S. Pfann in collaboration with Emanuel Tov). Brill/IDC, 1993.

The cache of manuscripts at Masada were found scattered among the perimeter of Masada, mainly in the casemates. These manuscripts may represent four periods and groups.

1) Early to Late Herodian (26 BCE to 66 CE) Pre-Revolt/pre-Sicarii.

It is generally understood that certain Greek manuscripts (MAS 740) and ostraca come from this period. It is also quite possible that certain, especially early, Hebrew manuscripts (e.g., Ben Sirah) came from this period as well as certain ostraca. Also the various various Latin tituli picti from wine vessels come from the time of Herod the Great from 31-23, 19 and 14 BCE.

2) Sicarii (66-73 CE)

Early during the revolt Masada became the sole stronghold and residence of the Sicarii. The founder, Judah the Galilean, and his successors were called “teachers” by Josephus (JW 2.118). There is no reason to believe that this group would not keep an institutional library. The cache of scrolls found at Masada that once were thought to connect with the Qumran scrolls are no longer considered to be either Yahad or Essene in character. The corpus of manuscripts from Masada should be viewed as the remnants of a Sicarii library, written mainly on parchment, with certain lay and priestly components.

From F.F. Bruce and S. Pfann, "Qumran", Encyclopedia Judaica (2006 edition)

Five papyri (1 literary ?, 1 list of names, and 3 letters)Also the various Greek tituli picti from wine vessels come from the time of th Sicarii 73 or 74 CE.

3) Roman military occupation

The various extraneous papyrus documents and texts derived from the Roman occupation of the site must be treated separately. These were found mixed with texts from the Sicarii occupation in the cache of texts found near the synagogue.

4) Byzantine monastery

At least one Byzantine document in Greek (MAS 742) and two ostraca (MAS 793, MAS 794) were found.

0 Comments Read full post »

How Many Scrolls are Still Out There?

Posted by admin on August 01, 2007

According to the two presentations made public at the recent IOQS meeting in Ljubljana by Prof. James Charlesworth and Dr. Hanan Eshel, each made separate estimates as to what other unpublished scrolls are known to be still out there.The tally of the scrolls known by Prof. James Charlesworth is 30, all of which have already been purchased and which he plans to make available (by electronic images?) to scholars for study by the end of August.

According to Dr. Hanan Eshel, the tally of scroll fragments that are available for purchase, or in private collections (mainly that of Martin Schøyen of Norway, who is fortunately happy to share images) amount to about 40. As in the case of the Nahal Arugot Leviticus fragments and perhaps some others he located in America, the scholar made it clear that he makes himself available to connect sellers with purchasers (without charge) as long as he will have the right to publish the fragments himself.

After the conference there were other individuals (some scholars), who spoke privately and want to remain anonymous. These also know of many of the manuscript fragments mentioned (and possibly other fragments). They are also interested to see buyer who are willing to donate the fragments to a museum or at least allow epigraphers to photograph and publish them. Most of these individuals are not interested to have their names known 1) since they consider this to be counterproductive for ongoing negotiations, 2) since their involvement may be seen as potentially incriminating, 3) and/or since they do not want to be accused of seeking some sort of "self glorification".

It seems that the race is on. Whatever the case, it is highly fortunate that at least some of these still outstanding fragments have now been saved from a secretive collector's safe. Because a cooperative and discreet buyer was found, these are about to become available to the scholars. It would be hoped that similar buyers could be located for the remaining scrolls. However, recent additional publication of information concerning the still as yet unacquired texts may be counter-productive. Now that the cat is out of the bag as to what, who and where, some of these scrolls may now go to the highest bidder, not of our own choosing. It may now be that a number of those many secretive (non-sharing) private collectors, after hearing of this news may work to broker a deal (even if they would choose to keep the scroll all for themselves or show it only to a few chosen friends).

UHL Staff


New Manuscripts from Qumran or other Sources II

Posted by admin on July 31, 2007

Hanan Eshel, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Sixty Years after the Discovery of Cave 1–How Many Fragments Are still Out There?

In this lecture I will try to offer a survey of all the Qumran fragments that are not in the possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority or the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum. Those fragments can be divided into two groups: The first group includes fragments, which are kept in public locations (such as museums, universities or libraries) and in the second group are fragments, which are kept in private hands. The two most important collections in the first group are the National Library in Paris, which holds 377 fragments from 18 scrolls found in Cave 1, and the Amman Museum, which have fragments from 20 scrolls (15 from Cave 1; 4 from cave 4, and the Copper Scroll from Cave 3). Five other museums and universities also holds a handful of Qumran fragments.

The second group of fragments are much more difficult to keep trace off, since those fragments often change hands. In this lecture I will discuss 8 groups of fragments, which are kept in different hands. The most important groups are the fragments in the Martin Schoyen collection, and the fragments that were published recently in three catalogues of exhibitions that were shown in the United States. In this lecture I will try to summarize all the details, which are known about those fragments.

The last part of the lecture will discuss the papyri that were found in Jericho in 1986 and 1993, the two Greek documents that were found in Ein Gedi in 2002, and the Leviticus Scroll from Nahal Arugot that was found in 2004.

Wednesday 18 July 15.45, Room 1